Tips for Smartphone Photography

Nancy Anderson
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Smartphones have transformed personal photography, making it easy to capture high-quality shots without carrying around a bulky camera. Phone cameras have some limitations, however, occasionally making it a struggle to compose a photo. By taking the time to frame your scene and ensure the proper lighting, you can master smartphone photography and create beautiful photos.

When it comes to smartphone photography, lighting is the most important consideration. This is particularly important when you are using photos to update your company's social media accounts, as poor lighting can make you look unprofessional and amateur. The built-in flashes on many smartphones often cause harsh shadows and unnatural lighting. To achieve the brightest and most evenly lit photos, position your subjects so that their faces are not hidden in shadow or shade. If possible, the light source should be behind you as you face the subjects. For flattering portraits, place the subject in a shady area on a bright day to take advantage of diffuse lighting conditions. Avoid situations with harsh light and dark areas; phone cameras can rarely process both at once, which leads to over-exposure or under-exposure on one region of the photo.

Zooming is a significant limitation of smartphone photography. Many phones are built with digital zoom, which is not as powerful or effective as the optical zoom that comes on standard cameras. If you want to focus on a specific area of a scene, zooming in can reduce the image quality dramatically. Instead, position yourself closer to the subject or take a non-zoomed photo and crop it. In many cases, a cropped image looks better than a zoomed image.

"Selfies," or photos of yourself, are a popular aspect of smartphone photography. Unfortunately, camera shake can cause blur and distortion. Instead of holding your arm out, use a smartphone tripod to stabilize the image. Many tripods are compact and lightweight, so you can carry them in a purse or backpack without hassle. Alternatively, lean your camera against a wall, rock or even a book, and use the auto-timer mode to reduce distortion.

Filters are perhaps the biggest asset and pitfall of smartphone photography. While it is easy to apply a filter to a photo and post the image onto social media, you run the risk of creating a generic-looking image. Help your photos stand out by avoiding popular filters and opting instead for editing tools. In general, the most effective editing tools on a smartphone are hue/saturation and brightness/contrast adjustments. Adjust the levels until your photo looks true-to-life.

While smartphone cameras are handy, these devices are not always outfitted with the technology to overcome poor lighting conditions or faraway subjects. By working to counteract the potential limitations of smartphone photography, you can capture beautiful, frame-worthy images.


Photo courtesy of adamr at


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